City Looks to Ordinance to Promote and Facilitate ADU’s

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ADU-2

In July of 2013, the Davis City Council, by a 3-2 vote, made a very controversial decision to change its Affordable Housing Requirements and allow credit for Accessory Dwelling Units (Granny Flats or ADUs) to count toward inclusionary requirements on a 50 percent basis.

In the wake of the loss of RDA funding, the city has limited options, given Measure R’s limitations for new large housing projects on Davis’ periphery, city officials successfully argued.

Critics charge that there is no guarantee ADUs would be rented or would end up as affordable units.  Moreover, ADUs may work well for college-age students and possibly other populations without families, but will not work well for family units.

“ADUs are not going to provide the ideal living environment for all the types of population in the community that we’re trying to target,” the city’s new Community Development Director Mike Webb acknowledged.  “We also heard the recurring comment that these units don’t provide for the necessary space for family living.  We’re not trying to suggest that they do.  We are proposing an approach that really takes a multitude of different housing types into account and to really try to expand on those opportunities.”

Tonight the council will consider a possible Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) plan supported by a majority of Planning Commission members.

According to the staff report, “The Planning Commission’s work plan includes a project to ‘Promote and facilitate accessory dwelling units – consider appropriate and effective ways to promote and streamline the processing of ADUs while ensuring compatibility with neighborhoods.’”

This work plan item, staff writes, is consistent with the city council goal of a “robust second / accessory unit program.”

According to the city’s general plan, an ADU, sometimes referred to as a granny flat, is a self-contained living unit accessory to the primary residential unit on a single lot. It may be attached or detached from the primary unit.

“The City’s existing ADU ordinance states that a maximum of one ADU shall be permitted on a residentially zoned lot where at least one, but no more than one, single family residence exists on the property,” staff writes. “Staff and the subcommittee recognize that ADUs may not be used for housing and may be used for home offices, exercise rooms, dens, game/hobby rooms, and so forth. If they are used for housing, there is no guarantee they will house lower income individuals or families.”

An ordinance is not before the council at this time, and staff would be directed to return to the Planning Commission and then the city council with zoning ordinance changes to implement the supported options.

Planning commission members outlined six key issues:

  1. Maximum floor area – a proposal would support the ratio of 10% of the lot size
  2. Maximum height – 30 feet is the proposed standard for both attached and detached ADUs
  3. Minimum setbacks – the planning commission “supported no changes to standards with the exception that a minimum of 3’ side and rear setbacks would be permitted if the site adjoins an alley or non-single family zone.”
  4. Discretionary permit – The planning commission majority supported “adding findings for a CUP [conditional use permit] or other discretionary permit while retaining existing findings.” This was a 3-2 vote, however.
  5. Noticing of neighbors – the majority supported “changing CUPs to an administrative discretionary ‘ADU Permit,’ with notice to neighbors and right to appeal.”
  6. Additional ADU programs – “Three of six members supported considering additional, more extensive programs after the ADU ordinance is amended and after the City monitors the results” – this was a plurality decision.

After council directions, zoning ordinance amendments will be drafted and brought back through the planning commission and city council for adoption.

Staff will invite stakeholders to review the draft ordinance when it is available and inform them of about opportunities to comment.

ADU-1

In 2013, staff mailed surveys to owners of 131 single-family properties with approved ADUs.

Of 52 responses, 24 ADUs are rented and an additional eight are occupied by someone as a primary residence.

17 are studio units and all are rented at very low or low income levels. Five are one-bedroom units which include three rented at low income levels. Two are two-bedroom units which include one rented at a low income level. The units are occupied by working adults, graduate students, retired individuals, and family members.

On May 28, 2003, the city council adopted Ordinance 2126 with the current ADU regulations.

This ordinance was adopted to comply with a State requirement that ADUs be allowed by right within single family residential areas with a ministerial building permit provided they comply with standards.

The adopted standards included a maximum size of 325 square feet, minimum setbacks same as primary dwelling, and maximum height of 15 feet. ADUs exceeding these standards required a Conditional Use Permit (CUP).

The use of ADUs for affordable housing has been quite controversial.

Darrell Rutherford, the Executive Director of the Sacramento Housing Alliance, spoke out against the affordable housing provisions by the city stating, “I stand here tonight a little confused as to why a progressive community like Davis is no longer taking the lead within the greater Sacramento region in addressing our need for affordable homes.”

“Instead you’re taking a playbook from the county and city of Sacramento as well as a community like West Sacramento – all doing the same thing by revising their affordable housing ordinances to benefit the development community instead of doing what’s right for our community,” he said.

Mr. Rutherford added, “In this time of limited public funding available for affordable housing such as the RDA which seems to have been the panacea for financing affordable housing here in Davis, the city should be putting the onus back on the market rate developers to meet our affordable housing needs but instead we see you cutting back our obligations and putting the onus back on to the city to meet that need.”

Robb Davis as a candidate in February spoke, adding, “I understand the challenges that we as a city face in providing and maintaining our affordable housing stock in a post-RDA world.  I also understand the need to create plans—in this case the update to the Housing Element—that are accountable to state and regional government guidelines and requirements.”

He continued, “But I am concerned that using approaches like counting accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as part of our affordable housing stock are less than honest and do not reflect a true commitment to meet our obligations,” he said.  “Because there is no accountability structure in place to assure that such units are, indeed, rented at affordable rates, we cannot, with integrity count them as contributing to affordable housing goals.  Further, ‘affordable by design’ does not equal de facto or real affordability.  I have been troubled by this move since it came into effect.”

He added, “It leads to a clear watering down of our affordable housing commitments and does not advance creative problem solving in our post RDA reality.”

“Again, I realize the challenge you and staff face and I understand there may be negative implications for the city if we do not reach obligations.  At the same time I feel it would be better to acknowledge the challenges we are currently facing and commit to a process of finding solutions given current constraints.  I would ask you to move in that direction tonight,” he continued. “Ultimately, though we want to be accountable to broader state and regional entities, we must first and foremost be accountable to ourselves and our vision for the kind of city we desire to be.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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39 thoughts on “City Looks to Ordinance to Promote and Facilitate ADU’s”

  1. South of Davis

    Robb wrote:

    > I am concerned that using approaches like counting accessory dwelling units
    > (ADUs) as part of our affordable housing stock are less than honest

    How is it “less than honest” to allow homeowners to get some extra money by building a small low rent ADU on their property?

    I don’t know the guy on B Street, but it looks like he plans to use the extra rent from his ADU to pay for his new BMW 6 Series (I noticed a couple weeks back that he replaced his nice BMW 3 Series with an even nicer 6 Series).

    What is “less than honest” is that politicians are not telling us that little developers and owner contractors rarely use union labor and they are not getting bucket loads of campaign cash like they do building something like the (overpriced massive) New Harmony Apartments.

  2. Robb Davis

    SOD – I am not sure that this response is going to answer your question but I wanted to point out that there are two distinct issues related to ADUs and I fear that David may be conflating or confusing them.

    First is the issue of encouraging the construction of ADUs to increase density via infill. That is the issue that the City Council is taking up tonight. Given our goal of increasing housing options and greater density we are faced with the question of what we can do to streamline processes to encourage construction–if not actually increase the number of units.

    A second issue concerns whether the City of Davis should count ADUs as part of its affordable housing stock. The City Council is not discussing that issue tonight but in the current ordinance on affordable housing which counts ADUs (1 unit = .5 affordable I believe) as part of the affordable stock there is no means to assess whether or not such units are really providing housing for those in need of affordable housing. In other words, there is no mechanism to determine whether or not they are really represent affordable housing. That is the potentially dishonest part of what I said during the campaign: to say we have X units of affordable housing but have no means to assess whether or not that is truly the case for some segment of them is problematic in my view.

    1. Davis Progressive

      looking through the city staff report, it appears they made ample reference to affordability as a rationale, so while i hear what you’re saying, it seems to the two are interlinked.

    2. South of Davis

      Robb wrote:

      > The City Council is not discussing that issue tonight but in the current ordinance on
      > affordable housing which counts ADUs (1 unit = .5 affordable I believe) as part of
      > the affordable stock there is no means to assess whether or not such units are really
      > providing housing for those in need of affordable housing.

      Does the city charge the $25 fee to people renting ADU’s like they do the people renting SFHs? If so it seems like looking to see how many people are paying the fee is an easy to see how many are rented.

      As far as deciding if the units are “affordable” the city can just come up with a maximum rent number. Odds are if I converted the “tiny” storage building in my “tiny” yard to an ADU (adding plumbing and a bathroom) it would not rent for much and would be “affordable” but if John Whitcomb builds a new luxury 5,000sf “ADU” on his huge (10+ acre) lot it probably would not be “affordable”…

      1. Don Shor

        but if John Whitcomb builds a new luxury 5,000sf “ADU”

        I’m reasonably sure there is an upper limit on the size of these things. He’d need a zoning variance to add anything above a certain size. On rural properties it’s 600 sq. ft.

  3. Jim Frame

    How is it “less than honest” to allow homeowners to get some extra money by building a small low rent ADU on their property?

    Because the ADU counts toward affordability requirements even though there’s no requirement that it be affordable, or even housing.

    If 100 ADUs get built and all 100 of them are used as home offices or rec rooms, the city gets to say, “Hey, we just added 100 affordable housing units to our housing stock.” How honest is that?

    1. South of Davis

      Jim wrote:

      > If 100 ADUs get built and all 100 of them are used as home offices or rec rooms,
      > the city gets to say, “Hey, we just added 100 affordable housing units to our housing
      > stock.” How honest is that?

      I had assumed that only ADUs that would “count” are the ones that were “rented” and paying the city the $25 (less than a half dozen lattes) fee every year.

      Did someone actually say “let’s count every backyard building in town as “affordable” housing even if most of them are used for storage”?

  4. Jim Frame

    Correction: the city only gets to say “Hey, we added 50 affordable housing units to our housing stock.” (ADUs are only 1/2 a “housing unit.”)

  5. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    There is one VERY BIG THING the city of Davis could do to increase the affordability of housing and it has nothing to do with calling it “affordable” or adding ADUs. Davis needs to zone for more market-rate multi-family dwellings (R2); and the city needs to fast-track such developments ahead of all others; and approve them ASAP.

    Davis for a long time has had too few apartment units for rent for the given demand. The vacancy rate is far too low. This year it was found to be 1.9 percent. Some years it has been under 1 percent. A healthy vacancy rate–that is, a rate where tenants and landlords have a balance of market power to negotiate rent–is about 5-6 percent. I don’t know if Davis has ever had a vacancy rate that low in the last 75 years.

    What is weird is that a lot of people with no understanding of microeconomics run our city and have created this lack of vacancy problem. They think, wrongly, the answer is to tell developers they have to build some share of “affordable” units. But all that does is restrict supply and drive up rents. No city anywhere in the world which has requirements like that ever increases its housing affordability. However, a big increase in the supply of market-rate units ALWAYS is going to increase the affordability of housing in general. It’s a basic law of microeconomics.

    I should add that I don’t doubt for a second that there are a small number of individuals who greatly benefit from our present “affordable” policies. But while that small segment pays less rent, others are forced to pay far more than they would if more housing were created. It’s essentially an income transfer that harms renters as a class. It hardly hurts the rich. In fact, insofar as it pushes renters into single family homes, the owners of which can charge full rent without being required to provide any “affordable” units, it’s a big transfer of wealth from the renters to the landlords.

    We need to junk this affordable housing unit nonsense entirely. That will encourage developers to build a lot more apartments. And that will benefit all renters in Davis. For the truly poor, who cannot afford the worst quality rental apartments, the best solution is to give them money (Section 8) to help pay their rent. However, I don’t think that can be done at the city level.

    1. Davis Progressive

      “Davis needs to zone for more market-rate multi-family dwellings (R2); and the city needs to fast-track such developments ahead of all others; and approve them ASAP.”

      perhaps you can explain how you would do that – projects have to go through an eir process. a peripheral project has to go through a measure r vote. infill would need to go through some sort of process as well. please describe what a fast-tracked process would look like and how it would comply with both state law, city land use law, and neighbor sentiments?

      1. South of Davis

        Don wrote:

        > I completely agree with Rich’s analysis.

        So do I (but I don’t know how to add the fancy ‘thumbs up” icon like Don did)…

        What is important to add is that if we let the “market” create “affordable” housing (like most of America without Davis and Bay Area growth restrictions have) the politicians can not funnel millions of tax money to their developer friends that build the “affordable” housing or their union friends that manage and maintain the “affordable” housing for years to come.

        I was living in SF when HUD took over the SF Housing Authority and got to see some detailed financial statements and the monthly cost to “run” the apartments was FAR more than the cost of renting all but the very nicest most expensive apartments in the city. I saw some numbers from Mutual Housing California (a few years back when it was still Sacramento-Yolo Mutual Housing) and due to high management pay and high maintenance costs taxpayers pay MORE to help low income people than it would cost to just pay their rent at a NICER “market rate” apartment.

        One more thing we should not forget is that just like any property in the state owned or leased to the University of California we don’t get any tax revenue from most (but not all) “low income housing”. In the case of the 20 city owned GAMAT homes we are passing up over $100K a YEAR (over a MILLION every 10 years) above and beyond the extra money we are paying every month to manage and maintain them. In the case of the poorly managed city owned Pacifico Student Housing Cooperative (that has been more than 50% empty for close to a DECADE in a town with a 1% “market” vacancy the city and state are not getting taxes (and I’m almost positive school or any other Parcel taxes) of over $60K a year (over 3/4 Million over 10 years).

    2. Robb Davis

      Rich – I agree with your points about taking steps to increase the supply of multi-family unit rental properties. However, I also believe that within or through such projects it is both possible and necessary to create below market rate affordable housing options. The answer, in my view, is not in creating affordable home purchasing options but rather in providing affordable rental options for those for whom market rate rentals are too high–even if we build lots of new apartments. How? The answer is not fully clear to me. You mentioned the need for appropriate microeconomic analysis but such analysis would reveal the inability of market forces alone to provide options for people in our community who need them to afford below market rates. All econ textbooks I know of talk about the role of government in providing incentives or transfer programs to overcome market limitations and housing in CA is clearly an area where the market needs some help. The answer is not MERELY to ask low income people who work in Davis to all live elsewhere (not that you are suggesting that). So, yes, more rentals but also, find ways to provide some of them (again, possibly via transfers or other means) affordable.

        1. realchangz

          Don,

          Excuse my limited background on this topic, however, it has been my understanding that all Davis’ Low Income Housing must be made equally available to all who apply. Not to vouch for the veracity, but I have heard it said that fully 60% of residents at New Harmony have jobs in Sacramento.

          I’m trying to understand the nexus for the community and process by which the city would be issuing such vouchers?

          No question that we need more affordable housing in the community.

          1. Barack Palin

            So we’re building affordable housing so people who commute to work elsewhere can live here? That sure shoots a hole in the theory that we need more affordable housing in Davis because those that work here can’t afford to live here.

          2. South of Davis

            BP wrote:

            > So we’re building affordable housing so people who commute
            > to work elsewhere can live here?

            The “affordable” housing game is just a way to funnel big chunks of taxpayer money the politically connected. Taxpayer money is used to 1. Buy the (overpriced) land, pay for the (overpriced) studies, pay the (overpriced) contractors and then for decades have plenty of (overpriced) patronage jobs managing and maintaining the properties.

            It cost OVER $20 MILLION to build New Harmony (that everyone can see from I80). Last summer the New Harmony “affordable” property was asking $1,009 for a 2 bedroom unit and I found more than one (including College Square on J Street) “market rate” property asking $1,000 (I could not find any current New Harmony rents on line today).

            Later in the day I happened to drive through the New Harmony parking lot in my 13 year old car and did not see even one (1) car over 10 years old and most were newer than 5 years old and a couple were brand new (with dealer plates).

          3. Michelle Millet

            Well if we are going to start throwing out anecdotal observations here is mine. I live a block away from New Harmony and walk by it via the back path almost everyday. By my observation it is occupied mostly by young families, including many children that I work with who qualify for the free and reduced lunch program.

      1. Don Shor

        the inability of market forces alone to provide options for people in our community who need them to afford below market rates.

        I recently had a conversation with a local growth activist and discussed the limited rental options for young adults. Her/his reply was that the university needs to build more housing. I have heard this before. But this activist knows very well what the university has committed to in the past, and firmly stated that they have not lived up to their share of the housing increase that they promised.
        The university is adding 5000 students to the enrollment base here. They’re already on their way, with enrollment increases of 600+ per year since the Chancellor announced her 2020 initiative. But they are not providing the housing for that increase.
        If they point to West Village, all one has to do is show them the increase of enrollment that preceded West Village without any additional housing units being added.
        So the council needs to push UCD to add housing for undergraduate and graduate students. This means council members need to be meeting regularly with university officials and getting timelines and plans and progress reports.
        But the city also needs more apartments.
        Bottom line: between UCD and the city, we need 8 – 10,000 beds. Divide by 2.5 – 3 to get the number of housing units to provide that number.

        1. Frankly

          I have never met a “growth activist” in this town.

          But to his/her point, I agree. Davis is an attractive city because of the successful branding of having high quality schools. Housing vouchers and more apartments will increase competition for families working outside of Davis but that want to get their kids into Davis schools… and local residents and students having access to more affordable rents.

          However, if the university builds its own housing, that housing can be specifically reserved for students. And there would be less competition for local residents working in Davis for the supply of non-UCD rentals.

          Still, there is no question that we need to build more rental units. I think ADUs are a good idea. But ultimately we need to build more mulch-unit housing on the periphery.

          Generally I would not support rent controls, but if we continue to block housing growth and a low vacancy rate continues to escalate rents, we will need to do something.

          1. Don Shor

            I have never met a “growth activist” in this town.

            A growth activist is someone who has opposed some housing developments, supported others, and been involved in local campaigns regarding growth issues. There are plenty. Not all are “no-growth” activists.

      2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

        ROBB: “I also believe that within or through such projects it is both possible and necessary to create below market rate affordable housing options.”

        You’re wrong, Robb, and I think I can make it clear to you why.

        I had a discussion, maybe 3-4 months ago, with one of the principals in Davis’s largest apartment management company. I was curious why his company and other developers were not building (or attempting to get approval for) new multi–family housing like they did when, for example, South Davis was developed. It seemed to me obvious that we have the demand; and that the low vacancy rates were making huge rents* for landlords; and profits should be encouraging new supply.

        But, Rich, he explained, there are no profits in building new apartment complexes, because of the affordable housing requirements. He said “it is very expensive” to construct a brand new large apartment complex. And if you cannot charge full rent for every unit, there is absolutely no reason to want to build a new complex.

        So I asked, if we got rid of our requirement that 25% of all new units had below or well-below market-rate rents–we cannot entirely eliminate this due to state laws–would you and other developers have a proper incentive to build new multi-family projects? He said yes. He thinks there is room for “several thousand” new units in Davis.

        By increasing the supply that much, anyone who understands the least about economics knows that would reduce the rents for most renters in Davis, but especially for those who rent lower-end products. The new units would be higher-end, and they would charge a lot for those. But, unless that simply attracted thousands of people who now are renting nice places in Sacramento or San Francisco to move here, every renter down the chain would benefit.

        It’s true, as one person stated above, that we still might have Measure R and other obstacles to contend with. However, it would be a start to acknowledge that our affordable housing policies are the fount for why we lack affordable housing in Davis.

        I should add that he told me one other thing about building apartment complexes with 25% affordable (we actually had 50% affordable a few years ago, but none were ever built under that law): He said the only ones ever built in Davis were built because the city gave the developers the chance at the same time to build highly profitable single family homes. The apartments–he specifically mentioned a big complex in East Mace Ranch which he does not own–never would have been built, not one, except they were a required element by the city for a much larger single family home development. But that, he noted, does not make a dent in the affordable housing ratio. It mostly just winds up creating more single family homes and too few apartments, given the student population of Davis.

        ____________________

        *Rents in economics means something different than it means in ordinary parlance. It means economic profits above normal, created by either a natural monopoly condition or some other barrier which reduces or eliminates competition. In saying that our housing policies are creating rents for apartment management companies (which own their properties), I am using rents in the way economists do.

        1. Don Shor

          if we got rid of our requirement that 25% of all new units had below or well-below market-rate rents–we cannot entirely eliminate this due to state laws–

          Maybe you know: what is the absolute minimum the city has to do to comply with state laws regarding affordable housing?

          1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            I am not sure, Don. Several years ago, when Davis junked its 50% requirement, I recall a city staffer say at a meeting of the City Council that the state minimum was 10% on rentals, half of that for “low-income” and half for “very low income.” But that is going on my memory. I don’t know if that is right.

        2. Frankly

          Yup. That is why RDA was so important for building affordable housing.

          Detroit is having some fun. The city foreclosed on a bunch of real estate because of unpaid property taxes, and then sold it to developers on the cheap who bulldozed and renovated and now the neighborhoods are gentrifying and displacing the largely poor minorities that used to live there.

          Which gets to another consideration… affordable housing is more costly to maintain. in general, families with lower economic circumstances tend to put less effort into property upkeep.

          1. Don Shor

            That is why RDA was so important for building affordable housing.

            Quick quiz: what percentage of Davis RDA funds went to building affordable housing? 20%?

        3. Robb Davis

          Rich – I may be wrong but this statement gives me pause:

          “By increasing the supply that much, anyone who understands the least about economics knows that would reduce the rents for most renters in Davis, but especially for those who rent lower-end products. The new units would be higher-end, and they would charge a lot for those. But, unless that simply attracted thousands of people who now are renting nice places in Sacramento or San Francisco to move here, every renter down the chain would benefit.”

          Given that we are at less than 2% vacancy (Don will correct me if I am wrong about this), will even this amount of new construction drive down rents for everyone? This is, obviously, an empirical question but part of my concern is that I am concerned that we cannot, as long as UC Davis continues to grow, meet the need for rental housing in a way that will significantly drive down prices. Again, I am NOT suggesting that we use traditional means to achieve a “quota” of units. Some form of means-tested transfer (as Don suggested) may be necessary. The problem is, I am not sure if/how we could do that at a local level.

          1. South of Davis

            Robb wrote:

            > Rich – I may be wrong but this statement gives me pause:
            > By increasing the supply that much, anyone who understands
            > the lest about economics knows that would reduce the rents
            > for most renters

            Since Rob does not own a car this might not make it clear for him, but the price of an apartment is a lot like the price of a car. Most people (who don’t just ride a bike) want a car just like most people (who don’t couch surf) want an apartment.

            We don’t need to sell a lot of new cars in Davis to keep the price of older used cars low, just like we don’t need to build a lot of new apartments to keep rents low.

            If Davis were to pass “Measure C” (for car) banning any new cars from coming in to town the price to buy and/or rent cars already in town would go up.

            Even if we had a vote to not repeal Measure C, but just allow a dozen electric cars to come in to town (say drive in next to Wildhorse) most people would vote against it since some people just hate cars and others would love Measure C since it let them rent their old cars for a fortune and get 50% more for their car when they sell it compared to people in Woodland and Dixon that don’t have measure C.

          2. Michelle Millet

            Since Rob does not own a car this might not make it clear for him,

            Haven’t you seen Robb’s new Hummer? I guess technically that’s not a car.

          3. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            “Given that we are at less than 2% vacancy (Don will correct me if I am wrong about this), will even this amount of new construction drive down rents for everyone?”

            Robb, in theory, at least, it should make a big difference. Only empirical reality could prove the matter, of course.

            The reason why thousands of new units coming online should make a difference is that all of that adds to the vacancy. Think of it in a small model community with 100 apartments, 98 of which are occupied and 2 are vacant. Now you add 3 new apartments without increasing your population. Suddenly, your vacancy (for the short term) goes from 2 to 5, your V-rate going from 2% to 4.85%.

            A key variable, of course, is whether new supply in and of itself drives up demand. This might happen to some extent. In fact, I suspect when we add “low income” and “very low income” restricted units, that moves some regional demand from towns like Woodland or West Sacramento to Davis. Why do I guess that? Because Davis’s schools have a better reputation and we have a significantly lower crime rate. So someone who is income qualified and has children, given a choice for the same apartment at the same rent in a supposedly worse school district, will choose to live in Davis.

            It’s a somewhat different calculus for market-rate renters, however. If a person rents a high-end 3/2 market-rate apartment in Woodland, he might like to move to Davis to live in a new 3-bedroom, 2-bath apartment here. However, because of other factors (crime, schools, green belts, etc.) Davis will cost him a large amount more for the same quality of unit. So it is less likely, but still possible, that new construction of new apartments would raise demand.

            Keep in mind, of course, that, while not in a smooth line, UC Davis continues to add more and more to our apartment demand. So the more we fail to add new apartments–largely by destroying the economics of building them–the worse off all market-rate renters are here, and the better off extant landlords are. UCD had eased this problem somewhat by adding new housing. But a great amount of the demand that UCD has not met is going into single family house rentals, in neighborhoods near campus (like mine); and it is also pushing poorer students to rent housing in Dixon, Woodland, W. Sac, Sacramento and further away. (I met a UCD senior who told me he lived in the dorms on campus his first two years, but has lived in apartment in Vacaville the last two.)

          4. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            In an effort to prove I don’t have to write a 1,000 word answer every time, I post this.

          5. South of Davis

            Rich wrote:

            > pushing poorer students to rent housing in Dixon, Woodland,
            > W. Sac, Sacramento and further away.

            Not many (if any) “poorer students” “rent” housing in Dixon, Woodland, W. Sac, Sacramento “or” further away because they can’t afford the rent in Davis (they may have a job in Dixon or live for free with an aunt in Woodland).

            > met a UCD senior who told me he lived in the dorms on
            > campus his first two years, but has lived in apartment in
            > Vacaville the last two.

            I’m sure the guy really moved to Vacaville, but it was not to save money. It is about 40 miles round trip from Vacaville to UC Davis and using the AAA average cost/mile for a car it would cost close to $500 a month to commute (I just went to Craig’s List and there are LOTS of rooms for rent under $500).

  6. Robb Davis

    SOD–Price of cars are determined on a regional if not state level. Prices of apartments are determined very locally. So, I am interested in understanding empirically how many new rental units we need to significantly reduce rents here.

    As far as Measure C–thanks for the tip. I am going to look into it. However, I disagree with your price assessment. If we banned cars here the price may actually fall as people dump now-useless cars on the market. Alternatively, we would have a private parking lot boom in El Macero as homeowners there seek to obtain “rents” (of the economic kind) from the sudden inability of people in Davis to park cars in town. Matt Williams would be, most likely, the first to cash in.

    1. South of Davis

      Robb wrote:

      > Price of cars are determined on a regional if not state level.
      > Prices of apartments are determined very locally.

      The “price” of BOTH car and apartments depends on local restrictions.

      We have no local restrictions (yet) on buying a car and bringing it to Davis (I can own 10 cars and park them all in town) so cars in Davis cost just about the same as in Woodland.

      We DO have local restrictions on building apartments in Davis (I can’t tear down my home and build a 10 unit apartment or buy a vacant lot on the edge of town and build an apartment) so apartments cost more than in Woodland where I k now I could get the OK to build 10 units somewhere in (or on the edge of) town.

      P.S. As a bike rider you probably see the same people as Michelle and I when riding on the bike lane behind the brand new and nice full New Harmony apartment. I bet you also see very few people when riding your bike behind the older run down city owned Pacifico Student Housing Co-Op that has been sitting ~half empty for the DECADE I have been riding by the place. I’m not the mayor elect, but if I was I would make sure that the city owned affordable housing in a GREAT location on the bike path was filled before I did ANYTHING else about “affordable” housing in town…

  7. Jim Frame

    UC Davis continues to add more and more to our apartment demand.,,UCD had eased this problem somewhat by adding new housing.

    Persistent rumor has it that the West Village apartments are so expensive that students don’t stay there long and that the vacancy rate is high. By logical extension, those students then drive up demand for apartments in the city, lowering the city’s vacancy rate and raising city apartment rents. I don’t have any numbers on this alleged phenomenon, but if anyone does I’d be interested in seeing them.

    1. ucdavisstudent

      I don’t have any exact numbers on West Village vacancy rates, but I can confirm that the rent there is among the highest in town, and to make matters worse, you can’t share a room. I moved out after a year. The renewal rate is 50% compared to 70% for other student apartments: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/02/02/5159639/west-village-complex-has-yet-to.html .

      That said, the new units at West Village aren’t going to lower the city’s vacancy rate, they just won’t have quite as much of a positive effect as might be expected. I think the bigger issue is that even as West Village apartments age, they will never be accessible to non-students, so other apartments don’t have to compete with them (on price or quality) for permanent residents.

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